Emil W. Lenders1864 - 1934
Born: May 11, 1864, Germany
Died: April 5, 1934, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
As a child in Germany, Emil Lenders became fascinated by Native American Indians and was determined to travel to the United States. He attended a court school in Southern Germany and claimed to have studied with Karl von Piloty, the most successful academic painter in Germany at that time. Despite his mother's disapproval of his decision to study art, Lenders attended the Berlin Art School. He immigrated to the U.S., and in 1906, Lenders became a U.S. citizen in Philadelphia, PA. He took a variety of jobs until signing on with Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Lenders traveled with the Wild West shows, while studying animals, cowboys, and Indians. He befriended Buffalo Bill Cody, who eventually convinced him to settle in Oklahoma. On Joe C. Miller's 101 Ranch, he was able to study and sketch resident bison as well as the some of the Indians from twelve nearby reservations. Buffalo Bill presented to Lenders a saddle with the inscription, "To E.W. Lenders, the best painter of buffalos in the world."
Lenders spent much of his time sketching, recording, and collecting the material culture of the Indians. In 1910, he sold a collection of Indian artifacts for $15,000 to the American Museum of Natural History. He also sold some collections in Europe. Among his favorite subjects to paint were the American bison. He said, "Buffalo should be designated the king of beasts; The buffalo is the America animal; this was his only home; he was found nowhere else. He should be preserved for all future generations."